50 Modern Paintings 1860-1970

Ref: C3744274

Representing a break from traditional modes of representation, modern art manifested itself in a variety of ways from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. This course will trace a path through the major artistic trends of the modern era through fifty key works. Each week we will focus on five paintings, setting them in an artistic and wider sociological context. Artists whose work we will be studying include: Éduoard Manet, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Pablo Picasso, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, George Grosz, Wassily Kandinsky, Frida Kahlo, Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock, Richard Hamilton, Mark Rothko and Andy Warhol.

Course aim

The aim of this course is to introduce participants to the art of the modern era through a selection of key paintings.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Define what is meant by the terms ‘avant-garde’, ‘modern’, ‘modernist’ and ‘modernism’.
  • Identify major trends (e.g. Fauvism, Cubism) in the development of modern art from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century with reference to specific paintings.
  • Outline social/cultural/political changes that influenced the development of modern art in Europe and North America (for example increased urbanisation in late nineteenth century France).
  • Describe what is meant by the ‘formal elements’ of painting with reference to specific works.
  • Describe at least ten paintings studied on the course with reference to the following (where appropriate): art movement, formal elements, content, context and critical reception.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • Participants will be encouraged to undertake additional activities between sessions such as visiting galleries and researching online. These activities, however, will not be compulsory.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • Participants will be encouraged to share their ideas and thoughts with the group. The tutor will be happy to talk to participants on an individual basis after the session ends, if appropriate.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • All materials will be provided
  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here http://www.wea.org.uk/learn-wea/what-can-i-do-next

Download full course information sheet

50 Modern Paintings 1860-1970


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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